Curler’s Corner: Know Your Role (7/7)

Part 7: Skip

A Skip (or the team member throwing Skip stones) is responsible for getting 2 points with the hammer or steal 1 point without the hammer.


If things are going well for your team, where there are a couple of your team’s stones in the house and possibly behind cover, the Skip will be able to have their Third throw a guard to  help continue to protect the multiple points already being scored.  Unless your team specifically needs a lot of points to catch up, there is no need to get greedy with the Thirds stones.

Again, the role of throwing a guard as a Third is the same as the role of throwing a guard as a Lead.  A high guard (closer to the hog line) is not as useful as a guard that is closer to the stone you are guarding.   You still want 3 feet of space between the guard and the stone you are guarding, else you may give the opponent an opportunity to throw a double-takeout to remove both your guard and the stone behind it.  The further you are away from the guarded stone, the harder the takeout.  If you are too far away, the opponent may be able to draw around the guard and bump the stone out into the open or out of play all together.


Thirds will be called on to throw draws typically for 1 of 3 reasons:

  1. There are a couple of guards in place and the house is empty (or no stones in the 8 foot rings or closer).  Here the goal is to draw behind the guard(s) and in front of the T-Line.  The is the same goal as aSecond’s draw shot.
  2. The only stone in play is in the house to one side (typically on the 8-foot ring) and not behind a guard.  Depending on your opponents strengths and weaknesses or the way the ice is responding, the Skip may not want to guard the stone in the house, but rather draw to the other side of the 8-foot ring to “Split The House”.   Now your opponent is only able to take 1 of the 2 stones out of play and they have nothing to hide behind.  Allowing your team to continue to swap their stone for your stone.   If executed correctly, your team is guaranteed to get 2 points with the hammer or force your opponent to take 1 point if they have the hammer.
  3. The stones in the house are all behind the T-Line.  Drawing to these stones will allow you to have shot rock and with the stones behind it, it is very difficult to move from shot position.  The reason this is played with the Third stones and not the Skip stones, is to be the first to take advantage of the stones behind the T-Line before your opponents do.  Remember that if you are able to draw to these stones behind the T, your opponent is too.  So if you are too heavy and end up behind the T-Line, your opponent can use your stone to their advantage.


Like a draw for 2


Although a Third does not typically have a common type of shot, the bump is most commonly played by Thirds over any other position.  Remember that the job of the Third is to maintain control of the end, or try to regain control.   The bump weight is what is also commonly referred to as “controlled weight”.   It is called this because you can control the stone’s curl and move other stones around, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that it is also used to take further control of a busy house.

In the Third position, bumps are often used to promote stones to first or second shot in attempt to be in scoring position while maintain a guard for the stone you are raising closer to the button.  Hopefully this raise is straight back, which will allow you hit, the target stone you are raising, full or on the nose.   If you are attempting to raise a stone that is off to the side toward the button, it is called an “angle raise”.  The greater the angle the harder the shot, because the amount of force that is transfered to the target stone is only partial of the thrown stone, so judging the weight is more difficult. Also the line required to get the stone toward the button increases in difficulty.  If you’ve ever played billiards, you probably realize that because of the 2 round objects, getting the correct angle is has a number of factors and is not simple.  At least in billiards, your cue ball is usually traveling in a straight line and not curling from left-to-right or right-to-left.   Angle raises are the second lowest percentage shot in curling.  (Ticks being the lowest)

The other reason that bumps are more often thrown by a Third than any other position, is that if your opponent is controlling the end and has even “Split The House”, a bump is the best chance at regaining control.   By bumping one of their stones slightly to allow you to take 1st or 2nd shot and use their stone as backing, it makes it more difficult for your opponent to remove you from play.   A bump will leave some space between your stone and your opponents, so it is not as great as a Freeze (discussed next), but it may be required if the opponents stones are in front of the T-Line.


Running out of stones

Better to let them count 3 than 5


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